BIOL332-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020

Genetics, Evolution and Ecology of Invasive Species

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


An introduction to the genetics and evolution of biological invasions, including the use of molecular tools to answer applied questions regarding the source, spread, and effects of introduced organisms within an ecological context.

Goals of the course
• To introduce students to the use of molecular tools to answer applied questions regarding the source, spread, and ecological impacts of introduced organisms.
• To develop understanding of the genetics and evolution of invasive species, and the genetic impacts of invasive species on native species.
• To develop skills in evaluating and understanding the scientific literature related to invasion ecology.
• To develop skills in writing and evaluating scientific proposals, including addressing Vision Mātauranga.

Learning Outcomes

1. Able to interpret and evaluate primary literature using molecular tools in invasion biology
2. Understand the application of molecular tools to identify species, source populations, impacts on ecological communities, and invasion routes from genetic data
3. Understand the use of genetic modification as a tool in invasive species management
4. Appreciate the role of genetic variation, genetic variance, and plasticity in biological invasions
5. Understand the evolutionary consequences of biological invasions at various stages of the invasion process
6. Understand the importance of hybridisation in the invasion process
7. Understand the impact of invasive species on the genetics and evolution of non-invasive species.
8. Able to discuss and respond to Vision Mātauranga in the context of research design and implementation.

Transferable Skills Register
Synthesising information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to
read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your
own viewpoint. In the lectures and research proposal assessment you will develop your
abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs.

Preparation of a research grant proposal. Obtaining funding is a requirement in all fields of
science. In the research proposal assessment you will learn how to prepare a grant
application in which you will request funding for a novel research project. This will involve
developing skills in formulating clear objectives, preparing a concise review of the literature
to support the proposal, and a detailed summary of the methods you plan to use to complete
the proposed study.


Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Ian Dickie


Hazel Chapman and Sarah Flanagan


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Final Exam 30%
Quizzes 10%
Final research proposal 30%
Initial research proposal 15%
In class test 15%


Feedback from 2019 Course Surveys:

Score (scale 1 – 5)
1. The material provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in the course.
2. The organization of the course helped me learn.   4.19
3. I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course.   4.1
4. I found the assessments throughout the semester appropriate for the course.   4.23
5. Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful .  4.32
6. The tutorial sessions were helpful in understanding the course material and completing the assessment.          3.77
7. The course gave me a good understanding of genetic tools and approaches in invasive species.  4.23
8.  The course gave me a good understanding of evolution and invasive species.   4.41

The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator and common responses scored. Action taken in response to feedback is indicated in italics.

• I think the tutorials at the start were well organised and useful however the last couple of tutorials using R studio were not that useful. I think this is partly due to having to use codes that we had never really used before - even in BIOL309. I understand that using things like R studio is useful for us to know but I was focusing most of the time on the code and not what I was actually doing or what results I was achieving. However, both the lecturer and the demonstrator were really helpful. Maybe some question hand outs to fill out so we know what we should focus on in the tutorial / for the exam.
• I think it could have been better if there were more tutorials on how to write the full proposal. Writing the full proposal without being told a lot of how to do it, even with a list of instructions, was a bit confusing and difficult.
Response: We have changed the tutorial structure in 2020, removing the R studio based component and focusing more on proposal writing. We have added quizzes to help students help know what to focus on and prepare for the exam.

• The open book test was good to have as part of coursework, but there were too many questions within the allocated time and so was hard to give our best in each question as we were pushed for time.
Reply: We agree. 2019 was the first year we tried this method of assessment, and the test was slightly too long. We took this into account during grading for 2019 but will definitely make the in class test shorter in the future!
• The assignments seemed more like a 30 point coarse but rewarding
• As expected, the proposal was hard. However, the assessment itself was very useful and therefore it was worth it.
• I haven't really done a lot of genetics before so this course was a bit of a struggle for me, but I really enjoyed learning about it and especially enjoyed the grant proposals. I think it is actually a great course for anyone going into post grad as it gives you a bit of a taste of what you need to do for a grant proposal/thesis
• The research proposal was really challenging but I really appreciated it as I believe it’s very practical and close to what many of us may do in future (either it be jobs or post-graduation).
Reply: The research proposal is a very large part of this course, and many of the comments reflect the value that students see in doing this exercise. We have adjusted the tutorial sessions to provide additional support to students and to manage the overall workload of the course.

• Very quick replies and great feedback given, helped enhance my learning.
• I thought the thorough feedback given on the pre-proposal was extremely valuable.
• Ian was great at giving feedback on what to improve for the grant proposals. It is obvious he wants his students to do well
Reply: We put a ton of work into providing detailed feedback on the proposal, and it is great to see that this is appreciated. We definitely want every student to succeed, and will try to do our best to support you!

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $900.00

International fee $4,250.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL332 Occurrences

  • BIOL332-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020